The season’s first death due to drowning has raised an alarm, highlighting the needs to pay attention to water safety.
It’s no surprise that an increasing number of families, groups of friends and individuals start heading towards water bodies as the mercury starts rising. As summer draws closer, people like to spend their days around water bodies. However, a large number of individuals still ignore the fact that they need to learn essential water safety skills.
The risk of drowning can be reduced only if individuals reinforce basic skills like adjusting to being in water, ways to survive if they unexpectedly find themselves in water and things to do if they see someone in water needing help.
According to Ankit Wagh, Director, Indian Rescue Academy, “Mere provision of safety equipment and appointment of certified safe-guards at swimming facilities is not enough. They need to conduct regular safety drills and simulations to keep themselves ready to act in case of a disaster. These safety skills can diminish if one does not regularly practice them and can lead to fatality.” In addition, it is also important for the pool authorities to constantly check and maintain the quality of water in order to ensure clear visibility till the bottom of the pool, he said.
Besides lessons in swimming, swimmers need to acquire water safety education, says Ramesh Vipat, a renowned swimming coach, who has recently been presented the lifetime achievement award by the Maharashtra government. “Drowning can happen nearly anywhere. People need to stay safe around water when cooling off and having fun. Be it a swimming pool or a natural water resource, one should assess his or her own swimming capability before diving in,” Vipat says, adding that availability and usage of safety devices like ropes, wooden poles and buoys is also equally important.
As far as unmanned, natural water bodies are concerned, the responsibility of taking precautionary measures lies entirely on the individual. Prashant Ranpise, Chief Fire Officer, Pune Municipal Corporation, urges families to be vigilant when children are in and around the water this summer.
“Despite the positive decline in numbers, there are still far too many individuals who drown each year in canals and lakes in the city as well as the surrounding areas,” he said. Calling on individuals to swim only in presence of adults, Ranpise also urged that enthusiastic swimmers should avoid forcing other untrained friends to enter the water in order to avoid possibilities of drowning.
Meanwhile, city-based Life Saving Society of India (LSSI) has submitted a proposal to the civic body asking it to conduct an annual pool safety audit for swimming pools within the municipal limits. However, the civic body is yet to respond to this call, thus risking the lives of swimmers, opined Purushottamdas Sharma, President, RLSSI.
Educational institutes having swimming facilities do train children in water safety, but education shouldn’t stop with children. Experts say parents should also be knowledgeable in CPR and other forms of basic life-saving techniques in case a child or an adult needs immediate help.
“If we can educate and help eliminate any statistic of drowning, we should do our part. This is an important investment for our society,” Ankit emphasised.
† Install four-sided fencing at least 5 feet high around water bodies, along with self-closing and self-latching gates.
† Pool alarms and covers can offer extra protection. But don’t rely on them entirely.
† Children should never run, push or jump on others in and around water bodies.
† All individuals should learn to swim. Enrol for lessons in swimming and water safery with qualified instructors.
† Do not consider yourself to be drown-proof just because you have had swimming lessons.
† Ensure supervision around water bodies.
† Keep rescue equipment, a telephone and emergency numbers ready by the pool.
† Children should not be left unsupervised near a pool. Appoint a “certified life-guard” to protect swimmers.
† If any individual is missing, check the pool first — seconds count in preventing death or disability.
† Flotation devices cannot be a substitute for supervision.
† Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and be sure others do too.
† Remove toys when pool is not in use. Toys can attract young children to the pool..